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Fukushima students visit WA

WA update farm visit

A 10-day cultural exchange visit to Western Australia by junior high school students from Iitate Village, Fukushima Prefecture concluded earlier this week. The trip was sponsored by charity group Mate Rock, with backing from Meat and Livestock Australia, The Australia-Japan Foundation, and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Perth.

The 16 students and representatives from Iitate Village, which was impacted by the March 11, 2011 disaster, enjoyed a 10-day cross-cultural program. Among the activities organized for them was a welcome reception hosted by State Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman; a home stay with Australian students from Great Southern Grammar school in Albany; and a visit to an Australian cattle farm to gain first-hand understanding of the Australian beef industry. This visit was arranged by Meat and Livestock Australia as part of its “Together With Japan” program. It is particularly important in the community’s rebuilding process, as Iitate Village is well known for its wagyu beef.

Mate Rock founder Adrian Bell said, “It has been the people-to-people ties that have made the difference in supporting local communities to overcome last year’s tragedy. These students were evacuated from their homes post-earthquake, and I am pleased to support this initiative and welcome them into the homes of their friends in Australia. It is our hope that the visit will act as the starting point for lifelong connections between the group and their Australian hosts.”

“We are very grateful to our Australian friends for this opportunity. The students are excited to travel overseas and learn about the world, while also immersing themselves in Australian culture and strengthening their English,” commented Kaname Hirose, Chair of the Board of Education in Iitate village, before the visit.

“These students, like their families, have dealt with many challenges over the past year. We hope this trip will inspire them and that they will learn from this experience,” added Chohei Satoh, Iitate village assembly chairman.

Mate Rock was established following the March 2011 disaster, centred on Japan’s Tohoku region. It aims to promote person-to-person connections and cultural exchange, through educational visits to Australia for students directly impacted by the disasters.

To read more about the students’ visit, see: